The Songs That People Sing

First let's hear somebody sing me a record that cries pure and true

Month: July, 2011

Nerina Pallot

I’m rather fond of Nerina Pallot, a great singer/songwriter. She’s a regular listen in the car when we’re driving as the wife likes to listen to music that she can sing along to, but not just ‘singalong’ but proper singer’s music.

Album number 4 is more of the same as her previous works, singer/songwriter pop rock, a little LA, just the right side of slick. It’s a little rougher in fact than previous works, produced as it is by Bernard Butler. Here’s a few tunes if you don’t know anything by her.

Here’s a track from her latest album, Year Of The Wolf. ‘Put Your Hands Up’ which was written for Kylie’s last album but not used.

Here’s a gorgeous cover version of a song that I adore, performed in a duet with a gent called Rod Thomas, otherwise known as Bright Light Bright Light

‘When Did I Become Such A Bitch’ in live performance

Shack – Comedy

One of the biggest secrets in pop music are the Head brothers, Mick & John. Once of the Pale Fountains, whose album Across The Kitchen Table is one of the great lost 80s albums, then of Shack, the Liverpudlian siblings write the kind of retro 60s influenced tunes you feel Noel Gallagher would have killed to compose. Musically they call to mind the mellower side of Oasis or the Stone Roses circa Made Of Stone, a joyous melancholy mix of 1966-67 sounds, Beatles, Love, Simon & Garfunkel and the like. Only they are much, much better in my mind than the Roses or Oasis ever were.

One of the reasons always given for their lack of success is Mick Head’s struggles over the years with addiction, and it’s a shadow over much of Shack’s output. But at this point in their career, 1999, the album this song Comedy came from, HMS Fable, is a remarkably vibrant and joyous album. It is tinged with melancholy, only sad in a natural way kind of music but it’s uplifting. It’s like waking up after a bad time of your life to realise you feel ok for the first time in weeks; it’s almost a guilty pleasure.

Comedy is currently one of those songs that I want to tell everybody about, it’s been a quiet favourite for a long time, but this week it feels like I’ve only just discovered it. That’s the great thing about music – if it catches you on the right day, in the right mood it’s something new that previously was familiar, it’s something powerful to blow away the cobwebs, it’s falling in love with somebody you’ve been in love with for twenty years.

If you like this you will be guaranteed to like everything else they’ve done. And if you don’t own anything by Shack (or mid 90s slight offshoot The Strands) then you should remedy that as soon as you can.

Someday We’ll All Be Free

There have been a few people I’ve known who have departed as a result of drink or drugs or some combination of both. Each time I’ve wondered if there was some way they could have been helped, stopped. But the simple fact was that it wasn’t the addiction that killed them. It was the hole inside them that they were trying to fill. It’s drugs or drink or gambling or relationships or music or it could be anything at all. There’s a gap in some people, a gap that marks them as not for this place, that just won’t be filled no matter what, and any ending is inevitable; in some people it’s already happened, they’re just ghosts until it’s time to go.

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when they go, it doesn’t mean that you feel the loss any less, it doesn’t mean that they were somehow bad people or deserved their fate. Nobody deserves to go before their time. It comes to us all in the end, but everybody deserves a decent innings.

Paul Weller -Starlite

(I had posted a YouTube, but its been removed. Go to the page above for a listen)

New Weller track, Starlite! Only had a couple of listens but its good.  Summery, quite late 90s filter disco type of thing and a little late 80s house around the edges. Good strong chorus, suggesting Weller’s going pop for the next album.

Days In The Trees

Days In The Trees by No Man. I think that this track, from the early 90s, is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. It’s been a regular on the stereo since 91 and it still blows me away everytime I hear it. Sumptuous and bittersweet, heartbreaking and thrilling.

The Jam

There was a period of time where I went off The Jam. There have been critics of the band who describe them at their worst as lumpy, leaden, unfunky. And for a while there I agreed wholeheartedly. Listening to The Jam’s version of Move On Up alongside Curtis’ orginal and it doesn’t have the lightness of touch, that skip in it’s step, the funk. But lately I’ve completely left that attitude behind. If I want funky, I’ll go to something funky. What The Jam have which I loved when I was a kid and am currently in the middle of appreciating now is something that I will hereforth call The Thump.

No longer will I think of The Jam as clunky as opposed to funky, no they will be the Godfathers Of Thump. Listen to Move On Up now alongside the original and it hits hard, it thumps it’s way through the track. A lot of that is Buckler, a drummer who doesn’t appear for the most part to do subtle. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the man. But now I can’t get enough of The Thump.

Here’s a perfect example of The Jam harnessing the power of The Thump. Big Bird was originally performed by Eddie Floyd. And the original, mixing a Hendrix style riff with Stax funkiness, still possesses a certain amount of The Thump itself. But The Jam’s version takes that to whole new levels hitting hard right from the start and increasing that all the way through. Thump Thump Thump.

“and everything I do, will be thumpy from now on…”

Kevin McDermott – Independence Day

Back in the mid 80s I saw this performance on The Tube and went out the next day and bought Kevin McDermott’s first album, a lovely little acoustic treasure that gets a regular listen today. This clip takes me back to those days, Paula Yates, bad haircuts and proof that The Tube sometimes wasn’t as good musically as you might remember. – just check out the coming up later clips.

1986, I was 17 and seriously heavily in love with somebody who didn’t want to know. I was still wearing Mod gear, but starting to relax it, bring in my own things. I was earning money from a part time job while I did my A-levels and spending most of my money on records, mostly from the Our Price up The Angel which was open on Sundays. My favourite albums that year were Patti Smith’s Horses, recently discovered; Big Audio Dynamite’s first; The The’s Infected, mod band The Moment’s Work Gets Done and Dexys’ Don’t Stand Me Down. And then there were the Kent Northern Soul albums that were opening up that world to my ears. I think it was a good year, certainly it was the last good one of the decade apart from 6 months in 1989.

JJ – If This Is Love

I’ve been stuck in a Boards Of Canada loop this week, which is great, but I’ve not much to write about them. So a switch to random play and this track came up, JJ, If This Is Love.

JJ was a duo from the early 90s, pushing a Fleetwood Mac meets Judie Tzuke thing and their only album Intro pretty much came and went unnoticed. If This Is Love was a single and was a regular on my Walkman at the time. It’s the sound of a hot summer, an unrequited love and chill outs after a night out for me. I was 21 at the time and having a pretty good time despite the unrequited stuff. I don’t miss that feeling I tell you. But back then I think I used to wallow in it a little bit. I did want to be a romantic songwriter after all.

The voice of JJ is Jan Johnston who went on to work on countless Trance recordings through the last two decades. Head to for more info.